CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins are praising a decision by a federal appeals court to postpone any decision regarding former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan while the new administration reviews and reconsiders that regulation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered April 28 that any final decision regarding the case be held in abeyance for at least 60 days, while the court and the parties involved determine the next steps.
“This decision is another huge victory for the Trump Administration and was made possible, in large part to the work of the Republican Attorneys General and our defense of the rule of law," said Morrisey, who also is chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association. "The dismantling of the unlawful Clean Power Plan means that jobs will be saved; energy prices lowered for consumers; and common-sense environmental policies returned to the EPA."
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Trump request to pause the case after he issued an executive order in March rolling back implementation of the rule. The court’s decision likely will make it easier for the administration to halt it.
“Today's decision by the court is a positive step toward protecting West Virginia coal miners and those who depend upon their success," Morrisey said. "The court recognized the landscape has changed and that a decision on the merits is not appropriate at this time."
Morrisey said he's glad Trump's administration is reviewing "the devastating impact of the so-called Clean Power Plan, and further appreciate the court giving due time to hear the new administration's take on this unlawful regulation."
"I'm proud to lead our broad, bipartisan coalition and look forward to taking part as the court considers its next step,” he said.
West Virginia challenged the plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. The state and a coalition of other states won an unprecedented stay of the regulation at the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 9, 2016. And Morrisey's team led oral arguments before the federal appeals court Sept. 27, 2016.
West Virginia and its coalition have argued the plan exceeded the EPA’s congressional authority and violates the U.S. Constitution by attempting to commandeer and coerce the states into carrying out federal energy policy.
Morrisey says the EPA specifically overstepped its authority by transforming the nation’s energy industry, double regulating fossil-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.
Jenkins (R-W.Va.) also praised the court decision.
“After eight years of radical environmental policies from the White House, we now have a president focused on bringing coal jobs back," he said. "The so-called Clean Power Plan is one of the Obama administration’s key anti-coal policies, and the court made the right decision in giving the administration more time to roll back this job-killing rule.
"If this rule were to go into effect, we would lose thousands of good-paying coal jobs and our families and businesses would be facing double-digit increases in electricity costs. I will continue to support President Trump and his administration in stopping this rule – and Obama’s anti-coal legacy."
Jenkins and some of his House colleagues filed an amicus brief supporting West Virginia’s court case. He has also voted to stop implementation of the Obama-era coal-fired power plant regulations, including helping to pass a congressional resolution of disapproval of the rule. He supported passage of the Ratepayer Protection Act, which would ensure states would not be forced to implement a state or federal plan if it would significantly hurt consumers or the reliability of the state’s electrical system.
West Virginia and Texas brought the legal challenge with a broad, bipartisan coalition that included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other state agencies.